MAGNIFICENT MILE — Unlike many unwitting shoppers, the swarm of protesters who aimed to disrupt "business as usual" on Black Friday Downtown in memory of police shooting victim Laquan McDonald got what they wanted.
Several shops along North Michigan Avenue reported lower-than-usual sales Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, due to the protesters who marched for hours that day along the Magnificent Mile.
The protesters — vying to grab the attention of Chicago politicians and other power brokers following last week's release of a video showing McDonald's death — formed lines to block entrances to Michigan Avenue stores and, in some instances, forced the shops to close early.
"We were impacted negatively," said a manager at Forever 21, 540 N. Michigan Ave.
Organized by groups including St. Sabina Church and the Chicago Teachers Union, the protesters took to the Mag Mile to express their outrage over the death of McDonald, a black teenager who was shot by a white Chicago police officer 16 times in an incident last year, as well as police brutality they believe is endemic yet too often ignored in minority neighborhoods.
"Today, there is no shopping on Michigan Avenue," one protester, Grant Newburger, said Friday. "Because Laquan McDonald won't have a Christmas. Rekia Boyd won't have a Christmas."
"If it was your sons and daughters, you'd be out here too," he said.
Though they didn't share specifics, employees at some well-known Michigan Avenue stores admitted the protests cost them.
"It was terrible. Yeah it hurt our sales," said a cashier at the American Girl store in Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave.
Ryan, a lead salesman at a nearby Crate & Barrel store, 646 N. Michigan, said the protests forced the store to close at 3 p.m. Friday, six hours ahead of schedule. But Ryan, who declined to give his last name, said Crate & Barrel "made up" any sales losses Saturday, which was free of protests.
Other Michigan Avenue stores including Apple and Burberry also closed early due to the protests, but would not say whether the closings impacted sales. When asked how Black Friday sales went, a security guard at Under Armour, 600 N. Michigan, laughed before declining to comment.
Though Black Friday came and went, the protests will continue, beginning with another rally Monday night at 6 p.m. at Chicago police headquarters. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina's pastor, and a teachers' union spokeswoman. did not immediately return messages.
Officer Thomas Sweeney, a police spokesman, was not aware of any police reports filed by stores related to the protesters' blockades.
Joe Ward contributed.
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